The Federal Government has indicated its readiness to flag-off the construction of an international gemstones market in Ibadan, Oyo State, as part of its efforts to improve non-oil sector’s contributions to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the years ahead.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite, gave this hint on Tuesday during the official handing over of a 2 hectare of land allocated by the Oyo State Government for the project.
The minister, who explained that the project was part of government’s initiatives targeted at fast-tracking of ongoing economic recovery agenda across the key sectors of the economy from the devastating impact of COVID-19 pandemic, stressed that the market would not only boost the state’s economy but would also attract foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows.
He explained: “First and foremost, this is an initiative of President Muhammadu Buhari’s part of the post-COVID-19 palliative that is being done, the mines and steel development sector is to develop the activity in the sector within the six regions of the country.
“For Southwest region, we chose to promote gemstone trading which was already going on in Ibadan, in an informal market at Ojoo. So, the whole idea is to formalise it. It’s an international market and of course, will enhance the trade that goes on there and the benefit that accrues to the government, both the state, the federal and of course, the local government.
“We saw the support of the Oyo State government to make things move, that is, to give us land and of course, this is what we are actualizing today. We have land now. We can begin to do what is necessary”, the minister added.
On the project implementation, Adegbite expressed optimism that barring unforeseen circumstances, the project would be completed this year.
He clarified: “What I can tell you is that we have the funding, the rest is human capacity, we’ll try to finish this as soon as possible. The government has done it’s best. They’ve given us the money to do it, now we are starting, you know how projects go, we have a site now, we are going to have an architect to design, we are going to have some other professionals in there, we are going to get the approvals, but this is a government project.
“I assume we go through that phase very fast, but we need to do the construction itself and then of-course, commission it. Before the year runs out, we should be here to do this, formalise and Commission this and I am sure the governor would probably be there, to cut the tape”, he assured.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Oyo State Solid Minerals Development Agency, Mr. Abiodun Oni, said that the project would complement the diversification plans of Governor Makinde’s administration and boost the state’s economy.
He said: “We have been able to reach an agreement with the Federal Government to partner, to set up a gemstone market here in Oyo State and what we are here to do today is to formally hand-over the land so that development can commence in earnest.
“His Excellency, magnanimously with the ministry of lands has given out this two-hectare of land for this construction. So, this is geared towards increasing the Internally Generated Revenue, (I.G.R), providing employment for our people. We are going to have direct and indirect employment”, Oni added.